Premier League Week 1 Betting Preview: Watch Out for Opening Weekend Underdogs

Premier League Week 1 Betting Preview: Watch Out for Opening Weekend Underdogs article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi

  • The Premier League season opens on Friday at Old Trafford with Manchester United (-177 betting odds) hosting Leicester City (+657).
  • Value plays have earned more than +48 units with a 25% ROI over the past two Premier League seasons.
  • The marquee matchup in Week 1 will feature Arsenal (+300 underdog) hosting defending champions Manchester City (-108) on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

It’s finally here. Opening weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season has arrived and there’s plenty to be excited about after an incredible 2018 World Cup tournament.

The EPL season begins Friday at 3 p.m. ET with Manchester United hosting Leicester City, and Week 1 is capped off by Arsenal hosting defending champions Manchester City.

Over the past two seasons, I’ve been publishing Premier League weekly previews and analyzing the betting market for every match while providing value plays along the way.

2017-18 Season: +33.04 units, 109 total plays (30% ROI)
2016-17 Season: +15.28 units, 80 total plays (19% ROI)

2018-19 Season Record: 0-0-0

For Week 1 of the 2018-19 Premier League season I’ve broken down every match and picked out five value plays including Manchester United-Leicester City.

(All odds as of 11 a.m. ET on Friday)

>> Follow Dan McGuire in The Action Network App to get free alerts on all of his EPL bets.

Betting Odds: Leicester City at Manchester United

  • Man United Moneyline: -177
  • Leicester City Moneyline: +657
  • Draw Moneyline: +300
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-118)
  • Kick-off: Friday 3 p.m. ET

The opening match of the season pits two managers against each other who are both on the hot seat. Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Leicester City’s Cladue Puel have flirted with the best odds to be first manager fired this season, a title neither wants to hold.

Since odds for Week 1 have been posted for a couple months, there’s been considerable line movement. Manchester United opened -220, but they’re now down to -175. With public bettors all over Manchester United (77% of tickets), it’s clear that some sharper money is taking a chance on Leicester City.

Along with the betting market, historical trends indicate that road underdogs have been undervalued on opening weekend. Using our Bet Labs database since 2012, road dogs have gone 14-25 for +40.71 units won on the opening weekend. The biggest payouts were West Ham (+1255) at Arsenal in 2015, and Burnley (+1125) at Chelsea in 2017.

My colleague Michael Leboff is on board and thinks this is a prime spot for Manchester United to go down. The opening match of the season could be setting up to be a shocker, and I think throwing 0.25 units or 0.50 units on Leicester City (+725) to win straight up is worth it. As for a full-unit bet, I love the low-risk value on Leicester City +1 at +110 odds.

The Bet: Leicester City +1 (+110)

Betting Odds: Tottenham at Newcastle

  • Tottenham Moneyline: +109
  • Newcastle Moneyline: +284
  • Draw Moneyline: +254
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-114)
  • Kick-off: Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET

Tottenham were the only club to make zero moves over the summer, something that had never been done by a Premier League since the summer transfer window was introduced in 2003. Fortunately for Spurs, they’ve got a load of talent on the existing roster already, and they may have an advantage early in the year by not having to integrate new players.

Newcastle finished in the top-10 last season, but clashes between ownership and fans, as well as ownership and manager, could hinder things in 2018-19. Rafa Benitez may not last long if the club struggles early on, and a home match in the opener against Tottenham will be a big test.

Public bettors have had no problem laying down some money on Tottenham (86% of bets), but their odds have moved from -119 to +109 since opening. Casual bettors are also high on the over 2.5, but juice has trended toward the under. This is a match where I’m definitely steering clear of Tottenham on the road, but can’t trust Newcastle enough to warrant a wager.

The Bet: PASS

Betting Odds: Chelsea at Huddersfield Town

  • Chelsea Moneyline: -165
  • Huddersfield Moneyline: +550
  • Draw Moneyline: +305
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-113)
  • Kick-off: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET

Chelsea open the season with a new manager Maurizio Sarri, who replaced fellow Italian Antonio Conte, and the Blues are going a bit under the radar heading into the year.

Not a whole lot is expected from Huddersfield Town, as oddsmakers slate them as one of the teams likely to get relegated. However, a home match in the opener could give them some much-needed confidence, and smart money seems to be buying in.

Despite getting more than 80% of moneyline and spread bets, Chelsea’s odds have been lowered from -196 to -165. They’re still sizable favorites, but Huddersfield Town could be ripe to pull off the upset. If the line goes back up over +600 on Huddersfield, that may be the time to pounce.

The Bet: PASS

Betting Odds: Cardiff City at Bournemouth

  • Moneyline odds: Bournemouth Moneyline: -113
  • Cardiff City Moneyline: +360
  • Draw Moneyline: +265
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-110)
  • Kick-off: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET

Bournemouth are one of the most lopsided bets of the opening weekend and their odds have moved from +104 to -113.

Rather than follow the line movement, I think this is a great spot for relegation-favorites Cardiff City to shock the Cherries on the road at +360 odds. They fit the Week 1 road underdog system and public bettors may not be willing to bet a newly-promoted squad who isn’t expected to be any good.

The Bet: Cardiff City (+360)

Betting Odds: Brighton at Watford

  • Watford Moneyline: +141
  • Brighton Moneyline: +238
  • Draw Moneyline: +222
  • Over/Under: 2 (o-116)
  • Kick-off: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET

Brighton and Watford, two clubs that could be in the thick of the relegation race all season, go head-to-head on Saturday. The O/U is just 2 and the three-way moneylines are all tight, so it stands to reason that goals will be hard to come by.

Historically, draws in games with low totals (2) and tight moneylines have been incredibly profitable in the Premier League. Since 2012, draws in these situations have earned +36 units with a 41% ROI. I’ll stick to what has been working and love the value on the draw (+222).

The Bet: Bright-Watford Draw (+222)

Betting Odds: Crystal Palace at Fulham

  • Fulham Moneyline: +156
  • Crystal Palace Moneyline: +205
  • Draw Moneyline: +236
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-110)
  • Kick-off: Saturday 10 a.m. ET

Fulham definitely improved their roster over the summer, making a number of high-profile transfers, but Crystal Palace were one of the better squads in the second half of the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Surprisingly, the majority of bettors like the under but I can’t really figure out why. Crystal Palace scored multiple goals in six of their final eight matches last season, and this is Fulham’s first game back in the EPL since 2013-14.

It’s rare to be able to fade the public on an over, and I also think Crystal Palace will pick up the victory.

The Bet: Over 2.5 (+100), Crystal Palace (+205)

Betting Odds: Everton at Wolves

  • Wolves Moneyline: +136
  • Everton Moneyline: +229
  • Draw Moneyline: +240
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (u-119)
  • Kick-off: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Both Everton and Wolves were extremely active in the summer transfer window, spending loads of cash in hopes of improving their cubs. Some people even think that these two teams could compete for a top-six spot, but odds show that will be incredibly difficult.

Public bettors have loved what they’ve seen during Everton’s transfer window, and more than 55% of tickets has come in on the Toffees to win. However, some sharper money has come in on Wolves, moving the home side’s odds from +157 to +136.

This is a match that could go any three ways, and I don’t feel comfortable being on any particular side.

The Bet: PASS

Betting Odds: Burnley at Southampton

  • Southampton Moneyline: -116
  • Burnley Moneyline: +400
  • Draw Moneyline: +250
  • Over/Under: 2 (o-124)
  • Kick-off: Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET

Another Burnley match, another low total.

This was the scenario in most of the Clarets’ matches last season, and their defensive-minded strategies certainly paid off by qualifying for Europa League. More than 70% of their matches closed with a total of 2 goals in 2017-18.

Southampton were mostly disappointing last season but managed to avoid relegation, and they’ll be looking for a better start to this year.

I’ve already taken Burnley (+375) to get relegated after this season so I’ll be rooting against them in most matches. Against Southampton, the public betting percentages all make sense with minimal line movement, but you’ll want to keep an eye on the market before Sunday.

The Bet: PASS

Betting Odds: West Ham at Liverpool

  • Liverpool Moneyline: -382
  • West Ham Moneyline: +1200
  • Draw Moneyline: +555
  • Over/Under: 3 (o-130)
  • Kick-off: Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET

Liverpool are one of the few teams that could potentially challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title, but they’ve got a tricky home matchup against West Ham United in the opener.

West Ham made some key signings on transfer deadline day and are aiming high for a top-10 or top-six finish this season. In the opening match, they’re listed as massive +1200 underdogs to beat Liverpool, but as I mentioned, above road underdogs tend to spring upsets early in the year. I’d either place a real small bet on West Ham to win, or lay off entirely.

The Bet: PASS

Betting Odds: Manchester City at Arsenal

  • Man City Moneyline: -108
  • Arsenal Moneyline: +300
  • Draw Moneyline: +297
  • Over/Under: 3  (o-107)
  • Kick-off: Sunday, 11 a.m. ET

What a way to wrap up the opening weekend of the season with the defending champions Manchester City taking on Arsenal in North London. This will be the first competitive match for the Gunners without manager Arsene Wenger at the helm in 22 years.

New head coach Unai Emery actually doesn’t have a lot of pressure on him at Arsenal despite replacing a legend. Patience had grown far too thin with Wenger and change was long overdue. The club was able to make some early summer signings and have looked cohesive in the preseason.

It also benefits the Gunners to be catching Manchester City early in the year with so many players tired from the World Cup. Over the longhaul, I don’t see anyone competing with City for the title, but do think they could struggle a tiny bit in the beginning of the season.

At +300 odds, I’d consider Arsenal to get the home win, but don’t want my Gunners fandom to interfere.

The Bet: PASS

Value Plays

  • Leicester City +1 (+110) at Manchester United
  • Cardiff City (+360) at Bournemouth
  • Brighton-Watford Draw (+225)
  • Crystal Palace-Fulham Over 2.5 (+100)
  • Crystal Palace (+205) at Fulham

More Premier League Betting Coverage

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